On September 20, 2016, 300 families throughout West Dallas received notice from HMK Ltd, a rental company that owns their homes, that they have to leave their homes by October 31st. The eviction was the result of Dallas’ new housing standards that were passed in September, making the building codes stricter to protect low-income residents that are forced to live in sub-optimal conditions. Because of the new codes, HMK Ltd. could not afford to make the old West Dallas homes meet the new standards, especially given the low rent levels that residents pay each month (Solis, 2016). Throughout HMK’s properties, most residents paid between $300 and $500 per month, which HMK’s owner, Khriash Khraish, did not want to raise to do the repairs. The move-out deadline was eventually extended to June 3, 2017 and then again to October 2, 2017 (Collins, 2017).
Housing in Dallas is very expensive and finding properties that only charge $300 in rent per month is near impossible, therefore West Dallas residents can’t afford to relocate anywhere else. Also, many of the families being evicted have been a part of the community since they were born, showing their ties to the culture and family of West Dallas (Collins, 2017)
This eviction crisis has been publicly debated between the Dallas Mayor, Mike Rawlings, and HMK’s owner, Khraish Khraish. Rawlings claims that the old housing codes allowed unsafe living conditions and the creation of “shabby” housing that low-income residents are forced to endure. He claims that prior to the codes being changed, he reached out to all the landlords in West Dallas to try and find a way to bring homes to code before signing off on the policy. According to Rawlings, HMK did not want to participate in this conversation and decided on their own that they would have to evict the residents and close the properties (Diaz-Hurtado, 2017).
Khraish Khraish claims that the reason he did not participate in the code conversations was because he wanted all inspections to have written notice, but the city would not agree so he would not participate. Khraish argues that he bought the homes previously to make them livable for the West Dallas residents, but since the code changed, he would have to rebuild the homes to make them meet code. Once the homes were rebuilt, the current residents would no longer be able to afford living there (Diaz-Hurtado, 2017).
Additionally, Mayor Rawlings argues that redevelopment is not actually happening and no one is being pushed out of West Dallas, despite the rising housing prices that have emerged since the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Trinity Groves were built. Everywhere you look there are new apartments and restaurants being built, causing a rise in cost of living that force the current residents to relocate to cheaper areas (Diaz-Hurtado, 2017).
Ultimately, the remaining 75 residents that waited out the eviction were given the opportunity to buy their homes or pay for the upgrades to meet code. If they decided not to buy the home, they would have four months to move out. Many residents relocated to Oak Cliff, but now pay $1000 per month in rent and miss the West Dallas neighborhood and family-feel (Collins and Diaz-Hurtado, 2017).
As housing prices continue to rise in West Dallas, more examples of this will start happening and it will continue to spread into any low-income area (Collins and Diaz-Hurtado, 2017). To learn more about how gentrification affects communities and individuals, click on the link below and hear from a West Dallas resident that was evicted from her home (Diaz-Hurtado, 2017).
Collins, C. (2017, April 22). Living on the Financial Edge in West Dallas. One Crisis Away: No Place To Go. http://stories.kera.org/no-place/2017/04/22/west-dallas-has-been-on-the-financial-edge-for-generations/
Collins, C., & Diaz-Hurtado, J. (2017, May 24). Landlord To Sell Homes To Residents; Judge Delays Move-Out. One Crisis Away: No Place To Go. http://stories.kera.org/no-place/2017/05/24/west-dallas-landlord-to-sell-homes-to-residents-judge-delays-eviction/
Diaz-Hurtado, J. (2017, April 26). In Their Own Words: West Dallas Residents Forced To Leave. One Crisis Away: No Place To Go. http://stories.kera.org/no-place/2017/04/26/in-their-own-words-west-dallas-residents-forced-to-leave-their-homes/
Solis, D. (2016, October 7). Families confused, unprepared for West Dallas mass evictions. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2016/10/07/families-confused-unprepared-for-west-dallas-mass-evictions/